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Contents Vogue Patterns Magazine October/November 2013


42 Meet the Makers From sourcing durable denim to stitching details, today’s bespoke-jeans designers offer advice for building the perfect pair. byJean Hartig

48 Create Your Ultimate Jeans We examined some of the best jeans on the market to identify the details that make them special. Here’s how to incorporate these artisanal touches in your own sewing. by Gillian Conahan

54 A Passion for Fashion Since the 1960s, Bellville Sassoon has dressed the world’s most stylish women. David Sassoon reflects on fifty years of high fashion. by Marilyn Stevens

68 Borrowed From the Boys

ON THE COVER V8884 in pinstripes, with solid panels on the back and under the collar, from page 71. This page: Jeans V8774 from page 48 and shirt M6649 in striped cotton. Shoes: French Sole. Hair and makeup by Joseph Boggess.


Masculine pieces show versatility and style in these exclusive looks from the Vogue Patterns, Butterick, and McCall’s Patterns collections.

85 Pattern Gallery New looks from the Vogue Patterns Fall Collection.

DEPARTMENTS Editor’s Note 5 Letters | Contributors 7 What Are You Sewing? 8 Must-Haves 10 Destinations | Fifty years of Ebony Fashion Fair 13 by Jean Hartig

FASHION HISTORY Blue Gold or the Devil’s Dye? 38 Rich in symbolism and dogged by conflict, indigo has a rare mystique and a long, global history. by Catherine McKinley

STYLE STRATEGY SEW BIZ Fabric Matching 62 Cone Denim, White Oak 14


by Paul Trynka

Coral and Tusk 18 TIPS & TOOLS Fitting Jeans 22 Make a muslin and adjust your jeans pattern for a comfortable, stylish fit. by Jennifer SternHasemann

Trouser Closures 26 Choose the technique best suited for your pants project. by Kathryn Brenne

MASTER INSTRUCTION Corset Building 30 Part III: Cut a curvy corset from striped fabric and construct a floating busk for a clean front finish. by Linda Sparks

Pocket Panache 64 Experiment with sashiko embroidery for an offbeat take on jeans embellishment.

Straight Lines and Soft Edges 66 Create a statement piece with raw-edged self-fabric appliqué.


RESOURCES Guide to Pattern and Fabric Requirements 82 Body Measurement Chart 95 Fabric and Accessories Guide 96

COUTURE CORNER The Secret to Topstitching 34 Tips for banishing skipped stitches, keeping seams on track, and more. by Claire Shaeffer



The Secret to Topstitching Whether Ostentatious or Unobtrusive, Flawless Topstitching Is Within Reach With These Tips for Banishing Skipped Stitches, Keeping Seams on Track, and More BY CLAIRE SHAEFFER

Topstitching is any stitching, decorative or functional, matching or contrasting, that shows on the outside of the garment. Frequently it is an inconspicuous construction element at edges, zipper plackets, hems, patch pockets, or tucks, but it can also highlight the seams and edges of tailored designs and sportswear and add durability and body to other areas of a garment. Sometimes it’s a row of straight or zigzag stitching with a single strand of standard machinestitching thread, silk buttonhole twist, or other decorative thread; sometimes it’s multiple rows of threads in simple or complex designs. Even a machine-stitched buttonhole could be considered topstitching. Over the past thirty years, I’ve examined topstitching in many designs, in all price ranges, and am regularly reassured that the topstitching from even the crème de la crème of the fashion industry isn’t always perfect. One design that comes to mind is a Chanel suit with a cardigan jacket that I once saw in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, a simple tweed suit trimmed with multiple rows of decorative topstitching. Although it’s an attractive design, the topstitching rows are not parallel to each other along the curved edges. Generally, decorative topstitching is used more frequently on ready-to-wear than on haute couture, but a few designers used it generously for both collections throughout their careers. The most noteworthy are Yves Saint Laurent, who was greatly influenced by menswear, and Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges who created


“space age” collections in which the topstitching added a harder, sportier look. Designers such as Dior, Balenciaga, and Balmain, who specialized in soft tailored suits, rarely used topstitching. There may be several reasons why topstitching is used less often in couture garments. The construction of a couture jacket, for example, focuses on manipulating the fabric in your hands from the beginning, so the finished collar and lapels are shaped into their final positions during construction. In contrast, the topstitching on a ready-to-wear jacket is applied at the edges after the garment is assembled, and it holds the layers in the finished position. Remember when comparing couture and ready-to-wear that each couture garment is made for a single client—just as in home sewing—on a machine similar to the machines you use. Ready-to-wear is mass produced on special machines with multiple needles, special feet, and guides to create perfectly straight and parallel stitches. GET READY

If you haven’t had your sewing machine maintained recently, now is a good time to take it to the dealer for a checkup. Tell your dealer what you’re planning to sew and topstitch, and ask for suggestions about threads, needles, machine feet, and stabilizers. You’re likely to find a wider selection of products to improve stitch quality and consistency than are available at the chain stores. A new needle of good quality and an appropriate type is a must to prevent skipped stitches,

Opposite page, clockwise from top left: The signature red zigzag stitch of Stephen Burrows; a Yves Saint Laurent haute couture jacket; Geoffrey Beene's decorative gold topstitching from the eighties; and a creme Chanel jacket.



Create Your Ultimate Jeans We Examined Some of the Best Jeans on the Market to Identify the Details That Make Them Special. Here’s How to Sew Them Yourself. BY GILLIAN CONAHAN

J SUPPLIES Vogue Patterns 8774 or your favorite jeans pattern Selvage denim Mattress ticking or other sturdy cotton for pocket linings High quality jeans zipper (we used a Super Lampo T5) Silk or cotton topstitching thread Jeans button and rivets Leather scraps for logo patch and rivet spacers Jeans needle of size appropriate to your fabric (we used size 110/18)

ust what makes the ultimate pair of jeans? In a market swamped with denim in every imaginable color and wash, many of them pre-destructed or elaborately embellished, a growing faction of enthusiasts is returning to denim’s roots in a quest for quality, authenticity, and timeless style. These people choose classic details inspired by the Levi’s of yore, and favor heavy, raw selvage denims that have no artificial washes or distressing so the fade patterns develop naturally over time, creating a look reflective of the wearer’s lifestyle. To learn more about what goes into artisanal jeans we visited Kiya Babzani, co-owner of Self Edge—a shop specializing in Japanese reproductions of vintage denim. According to Babzani, the Japanese interest in heritage denim was driven by a fascination with vintage Americana that began in the 1980s. The original goal was not to create fashionable jeans but to create reproductions authentic in every detail, from thread and fabric to hardware, construction, and finishing. More recently, some companies have reinterpreted the classic styles to incorporate features such as lined back pockets, which make wear-prone areas more robust. “The Japanese take the vintage style and make improvements, but they try to make it all invisible,” Babzani says. These styles have made their way back to the United States over the years following their boom in Japan—a dissemination driven in part by the efforts of Babzani and Self Edge—and in recent years have found a market among denim lovers of all stripes. Premium brands in the United States and elsewhere have also adopted this restrained, detail-oriented approach to pro-

duce vintage-style jeans with a modern twist. The cost of these jeans often exceeds $300, and bespoke denim surpasses that by far. But for hard-core denim lovers who wear their jeans daily, lovingly repairing the inevitable holes and rips, and share photos and tips in a host of online forums, blogs, and lifestyle sites, the beauty, durability, and authenticity are worth the price. It’s a mind-set that any lover of fine sewing can appreciate, and much of it translates beautifully to sewing at home. RAW MATERIALS

Trendy denim producers, including a number of Japanese mills as well as Cone Denim in Greensboro, North Carolina, weave the cloth on old-style narrow shuttle looms, using a single thread that passes back and forth to produce the neat selvage edge that has become a hallmark of quality jeans. Although thick, heavy jeans aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, we found our denim to be surprisingly soft and malleable for its weight, and it proved manageable to sew on a domestic machine. Original jeans threads were 100 percent cotton, a relatively weak fiber that frays and breaks over time. Most modern producers use polyester threads, either all poly or a cotton-wrapped poly core, so the stitching remains pristine even when the jeans themselves start to disintegrate. Premium producers such as Flat Head and Strike Gold have returned to using all-cotton thread in pursuit of a jean that will distress authentically. Although we tested a variety of cotton threads for topstitching—using a freestanding




A Passion for Fashion Since the 1960s the Couture House of Bellville Sassoon Has Dressed Many of the World’s Most Stylish Women. Now in His Early Eighties, David Sassoon Reflects on Fifty Years of High Fashion. BY MARILYN STEVENS


David Sassoon working with Belinda Bellville at Cadogan Lane in 1967.

lim, well-groomed, and fashionably dressed in a blue sweater and skinny jeans, David Sassoon greets me warmly as I arrive at his Kensington apartment, which is situated in an imposing Victorian mansion that overlooks one of London’s leafy garden squares. He disappears into the kitchen to make tea, giving me the chance to admire his elegant drawing room. It has a tranquil, Zen-like feel—formal sofas piled with pillows in rich jeweled colors, flanked by low, dark wooden tables stacked with art and fashion books. Now in his early eighties (though he doesn’t look it), Sassoon has retired from Bellville Sassoon, a couture house synonymous with high fashion for over fifty years. Retired is a bit of a misnomer, however: For the last twelve months he’s been planning for the forthcoming exhibition The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon, scheduled to take place this autumn at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. Unlike his good friend the designer Zandra Rhodes—who has squirreled away dresses and textiles throughout her equally long fashion career and also exhibited at the Fashion and Textile Museum this past summer— Sassoon has kept very little. His press scrapbooks and archives have since been donated to fashion museums in London and Bath. So lately he’s been busy writing letters, making calls, and meeting with former clients and the representatives at the

various museums where Bellville Sassoon garments are on display in order to assemble the collection of sixty garments that will tell the house’s story of couture and glamour, from the late fifties to the present day.


elinda Bellville offered Sassoon a job in 1958, after seeing his final-year student collection at the Royal College of Art graduation show. With no interest in tailoring or in “little day dresses,” he says—just glamour— all his garments were evening dresses. Bellville went to the show looking for someone to assist her in her growing business, and that meeting, he says, was when his life in fashion really began—at a time when London was setting the pace for a new mood of fashion. During that same year, Sassoon made his first visit to Buckingham Palace to oversee the fitting of a bridesmaid’s dress for Princess Anne, the first of a list of royal clients that went on to include Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, Princess Michael of Kent (who will open the exhibit at the Fashion and Textile Museum), the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duchess of York. Sassoon dressed Diana, Princess of Wales, on many occasions, creating the glamorous black, strapless gown she wore for a benefit recital; the blue sailor suit for the official engagement portraits with the Queen and Prince Charles; and,





Opposite page: A touch of fusible interfacing helps to make the faced waistline of this skirt more substantial and prevents it from crumpling when worn. V8603, Misses’ (6–20). A men’s shirt contrasts nicely with the feminine silhouette. V8889, Men’s (34–46). Purchased vest. This page: The blue skirt has a center-front seam, which makes this style a great choice when you’re short on fabric. M6608, Misses’ (4–20). Purchased shirt. Shoes: J Shoes.




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Vogue Patterns Magazine October/November 2013 sampler  

Create Your Ultimate Jeans: The details that make the difference and how to sew them yourself. Fitting Jeans: How to make a muslin and adjus...